I always get a little bummed out in the fall, especially when it’s time to put the boats away. When I was growing up, it became a family ritual for my brother, father and I to dedicate a weekend to pulling docks and rafts out of the water, and diligently making boats ready for winter. We’d listen to football games on the radio to make the work go quickly, but it still seemed tough to concede the end of another summer season on the water.
It seems that the younger I was, the later I wanted to press this process into the fall, and we had to talk Dad into letting us wait “just one more week.” Having grown older, I now appreciate where Dad was coming from. I also learned that there are a few tricks that, if you remember them now, will keep you from being really bummed out when it’s time to drop a boat back in the water in spring.
Here’s a good primer on winterizing your boat, but I want to re-emphasize a couple key points for effect.
The most important things to remember are that you want to ensure that the interior compartments of your boat are as dry as possible, while also ensuring that your gas tank is full.
I like to let the sun evaporate most of the moisture from a boat, especially if the boat has a carpeted interior, before putting its cover on for storage. Even though you might be inclined to seal that boat 100 percent, you want to ensure that there are some small vents to allow for more evaporation, and eliminate all possibility of condensation inside during the winter.
You always want to store your boat clean. So give it a good wash, and inspect things like the hull and prop. It’s best to notice any problems now, rather than when you are gearing up for next summer.
Be sure to take any electronics out of the boat, and store them in a dry secure place (inside the house) during the winter.
Lastly, be sure to flush your engine, and remember to store outboard engines standing up, rather than on their sides.
A little effort now goes a long way later to protect your boat and make next spring that much easier. And who knows, with the right company, it can make for a fun fall weekend.
Kirk Deeter is an editor-at-large for Field & Stream.